We hear about how important it is to be a contrarian in daily fantasy tournaments. I’m a believer in an against-the-grain approach because I believe ownership rates, particularly in a volatile sport like baseball, aren’t reflective of the actual odds of players performing well. It’s just too difficult to predict batter performances, for example, to justify 35 percent ownership on a single player.
I think there are different ways to be contrarian, however, some of which are better than others. Since being a contrarian player has become synonymous with finding under-the-radar plays, I think the way that most people try to go against the grain is to find cheap values that no one else is on.
One of my favorite strategies is to actually pay up for studs who are in perceived poor matchups. Everyone is going to be on Giancarlo Stanton against a weak lefty, but that type of player can go nuts against basically anyone. Stanton is in a tad worse spot against righties, but if you can get him at single-digit ownership instead of 30+ percent, that’s a huge win. Whereas inferior players are pretty matchup-dependent, the league’s best players—Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and so on—are so talented that I think you can justify rostering them whenever their ownership might be low.
Oakland Athletics (vs Chi Chi Gonzalez)
It’s going to be 90 degrees at first pitch and Globe Life Park is a hitter’s dream when the temperature is high. The A’s are projected by Vegas at 4.8 implied runs, but I don’t envision ownership being prohibitive because of a perceived lack of upside for Oakland’s bats. Some of that is true, but I do like their lefty-dominant lineup against Gonzalez. I also think the abundance of playable stacks tonight—including the obvious in Colorado—means you can use a six-man stack on a team like Oakland and still have a pretty unique lineup.
Milwaukee Brewers (vs Jon Niese)
I really like the Brewers tonight because of the park (they’re at home) and the fact that they have a lot of righties with extreme splits in favor of southpaws. Segura, Lucroy, Braun, and Ramirez make for a really powerful mini-stack with a lot of upside.
If you can’t help yourself and must get part of the game in Coors Field, I suggest finding a way to differentiate yourself. Two strategies I like are using a handful of players who hit late in the order or stacking the game with two mini stacks of each team. I like the lefty bats on both squads.
Albert Pujols, LA Angels (vs Collin McHugh) – $4400
Pujols is an example of one of those players who isn’t in an ideal matchup against a tough pitcher of the same handedness, but one whose ownership will probably be very low because of it. Pujols mashes both lefties and righties, and in fact his wOBA and ISO are higher versus righties over the past 12 months. At $4400, I think almost everyone will want to either pay $100 more for David Ortiz or $500 more for Anthony Rizzo.
2B/3B Jimmy Paredes, Baltimore (vs Joe Kelly) – $4400
Paredes never seems to be very popular, but he’s a high-upside player who hits early in the order and is in a good spot in Boston tonight. His .380 wOBA and .203 ISO splits over the past year are awesome for the price. DJ LeMahieu and Dustin Pedroia might both be more popular options at second base at $200 cheaper.
SS Carlos Correa, Houston (vs CJ Wilson) – $3800
Correa has doubled his salary-based expected points in 27 percent of games this year, which is one of the highest rates in the league. The average is only 16 percent. Even more impressive, he’s reached half his expectation just 33 percent of the time, which is also better than the league average, i.e. he’s a low-risk, high-upside player whose price point is very attractive.
Chris Archer, Tampa Bay (vs Toronto) – $9800
Archer’s 9.4 K/9 is attractive and, although Toronto is clearly an explosive offense, they can also strike out at a decent clip. I think Archer’s ownership will be reduced because there are a ton of stud pitchers throwing tonight, many of whom are in situations others will perceive as safer than this. Vegas has the Blue Jays at only 3.1 implied runs, however, which is the second-lowest mark for any team playing tonight.